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man & globeWe live in a culture that is beset with competing world views. Intellectuals argue about these views, and our children are taught competing world views not only at school, but on television and even in their music. In simple terms, a world view is our understanding of how the world works. James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door, a textbook on world views, defines world view as “a set of presuppositions which we hold about the basic makeup of our world.”

There are several things that must be included in a good world view:
  1. Is it true? Is there evidence to support its validity?
  2. Is it consistent with reality?
  3. Does it work?
  4. Does it answer the hard questions that people care about? What is its position on the value of a human being? What does it tell us about what happens at death? What does it tell us about reality?
  5. Does it make us better than if we did not hold it?

There is a variety of world views outside of the Christian world view that are supported by leading philosophers, theologians, and politicians. In general, they can be lumped into the following categories.

NATURALISM — those who hold to this view maintain that we can only function by what can be measured. Science is held as the most important operator in life and our goal in life is to pass along our genes to those who live in the future. The value of a human being is basically held to be $2.35 — the market value of the elements that make up our bodies. Those who hold to naturalism will generally maintain that justice is a product of our imagination and that there is no such thing as evil.

POSTMODERNISM — the most fundamental concept of most teachings of postmodernism is that there is no absolute truth. One interesting challenge to those who hold this view is to ask, is it absolutely true that there is no such thing as absolute truth? That question is not just fun and games, it points out the esoteric nature of the view. Viewing life as being totally relativistic means that every person has the option of doing whatever he wishes in every situation. While this may be appealing in a selfish kind of way, the inability of this view to apply to all situations, especially those of hardship and unavoidable suffering, should be obvious.

PANTHEISM — this is primarily a religious view that maintains that life is an illusion. It is the basis of Hinduism and Buddhism and is polytheistic in nature, with the view that discipline and enlightenment are all that comprises life.

ISLAM — this is, of course, a religious view which maintains that God is a distant, arbitrary entity, and salvation is earned by man with that goal being all there is to man’s purpose and experience in life.

DETERMINISM  — this view says that everything is caused (by God in most cases) including evil. Man’s existence is considered to be directed and controlled by forces and entities beyond his control so that all experience is mechanically and robotically determined.

While we have tried to point out some of the superficial problems in these world views, it is not our intent here to go deeply into any of them. It is also not our purpose to approach them by getting into scientific evidence in specific terms. Science answers some questions such as “where,” “when,” and “how many,” but science does not answer the questions of “why” or “what is the right thing to do?”


    1.    The world is real. There is no attempt in the Christian world view to avoid reality or to suggest that pain and suffering are not real. Science can only exist in a real world, and measurements of the consequences of actions and of pain can be reproduced and recorded.

    2.    The physical cosmos was created out of nothing. All of the physical world we see had a beginning. This is supported by all observations science is able to make and all physical laws that we are able to demonstrate. Studies in quantum mechanics and modern physics are telling us more about the mechanisms and processes that brought the physical universe into existence and verify that the physical universe is real and not eternal.

    3.    The physical creation was good. Matter/energy is a positive thing that has the potential for enormous good. All of science is based on the assumption that this is true. Desiring to understand and improve one’s situation comes from a world view that says the creation is good and can be understood in a way that will benefit those living in that physical creation. That which is not good does not come from the physical creation but is the product of sentient beings.

    4.    There exists an unseen spiritual reality which is not limited to or defined by the physical reality. The creation of time, space, and energy must come from an entity outside of these quantities. In addition to being external to the physical universe this quantity demonstrates love, intelligence, purpose, and design in all that the Creator does.

    5.    Humans have a spiritual aspect to their nature. Man is created in the image of this Creator, but because humans are housed in a physical body they have this spiritual capacity to a limited extent.

    6.    Evil does exist and is the result of choice by free moral agents including man who was created with a free will. Imagine what would happen if evil did not exist as many other world views maintain. Slavery would have to be considered as a good thing, or the natural result of “survival of the fittest” with no negative connotations. War which brings pain to all of the physical creation could not be opposed because there is no negative value that can be attached to it. Cruelty and abuse have to be accepted as good or unavoidable because there is nothing that is evil. Mankind’s inhumanity to his fellow man is rooted in one way or another to world views that deny or rationalize all evil.
    The Bible has always portrayed humans in the framework of a full recognition of the existence of evil as something distinct and alien to God, and something about which human beings must make a choice. In Deuteronomy 30:15 –19 (NKJV) God says “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. … I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you … . But if your heart turns away so you do not hear, and are drawn away and worship other gods [world views] … you shall surely perish; … I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life … .”
    In the New Testament we see teachings and parables over and over that portray man’s need to choose between good and evil and how God deals with the choices. In the parable of the prodigal son we see a beautiful picture of a son making a bad choice, accepting evil over good. The story drives home the point that he did not know how much his father loved him and that the father continued to seek the son even in his rebellious mindset.

    7.    Christianity’s response to suffering must include compassion and service. World views that deny the existence of evil or that man has any role to play in the consequences of evil do not have to address any response their followers need to make in any situation. That may be appealing to some, but it does not work. It also does not make the world a better place or offer any solution to an individual who is suffering the consequences of evil. In Matthew 9:35 – 38 we are told that Jesus went about addressing the pain and suffering that was a part of the world in which He lived. Verse 36 says, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” As Jesus prepared to leave the earth He washed His disciples’ feet and then said to them that they were to do to one another what He had just done to them (John 13:4 –15). Christianity is the only system on earth that commands its followers to do good to their enemies and to give to those in need no matter what their circumstance in life might be.


Let us go back to what makes a world view good:

    1.    Is it true? Is there evidence to support its validity?
    The Does God Exist? ministry and this journal are dedicated to providing evidence that Christianity is true. For 42 years we have been bringing people’s attention to the evidence. This has nothing to do with us, our scholarship, or our knowledge. We have brought people who are scholars and who have done academic, and more importantly, practical work in every aspect of life to the attention of our readers and listeners. The positive effect of the Christian world view cannot be denied by any honest, practical, open-minded human being. Organized religion and hypocritical humans may have failed, but what Jesus taught and the practical good it has brought to this planet is undeniable.

    2.    Is it consistent with reality?
    The older you get and the more experience you have, the more you will be convinced that what Jesus taught and did were real and need to be applied to the reality of our lives. The use of parables by Christ was a deliberate attempt to bring mankind face to face with the reality of what He taught about every day life.

    3.    Does it work?
    Atheists and skeptics do not like to hear people testify, but the fact is that there are literally millions of people who have testified as to how the Christian system has changed their lives and brought solutions to them and those they love. Attempts to explain these away ring hollow when the change in their lives is obvious.

    4.    Does it answer the hard questions that people care about? What is its position on the value of a human being? What does it tell us about what happens at death? What does it tell us about reality?
    People criticize Christianity by arguing from ignorance. The idea is that since we cannot die and then come back and report on what happens when we die that somehow this invalidates the concept of heaven and hell. However, it does answer the question, whether you like the answer or not. There are other world views that also offer explanations, so one has to compare them and see what makes sense. The promise of reincarnation or of a harem of black-eyed virgins does not compare positively with the description of heaven given in the Bible. Revelation 20 – 22 deals with the question of what happens when we die, and offers great hope and consolation to those who are struggling with bad things in this life.

    5.    Does it make us better than if we did not hold it?
    As one who lived an atheist world view for many years, and who saw the effect of that view on friends and family I can testify as to how much better I am as a person than I was before I became a Christian. You may not think much of me, but if you had met me before I became a Christian you would have thought even less of me. I am a changed person, and there are countless others like me who are changed from what we were to something infinitely better.
--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, NovDec10.